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Officials still investigating Grindstone fire marred by anti-gay slurs

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Investigators are working to determine what started the fire that destroyed a cabin in Grindstone on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2012.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

GRINDSTONE, Maine — Investigators hope to determine within the next week or two whether a fire on Oct. 13 that state officials are investigating as a possible hate crime was arson.

The determination has been somewhat delayed by investigators taking vacation time, but that has not stopped the investigation into a fire that destroyed a cabin on Grindstone Road, said Sgt. Tim York of the state fire marshal’s office.

“It is a priority case,” York said Tuesday.

Three anti-gay slurs were spray-painted in large black letters on the front of a shed and on what looked like part of a roof of a smaller structure near the remains of the cabin, which is on the Penobscot River. No one was injured in the fire, and the camp’s occupants were not there, but might have been earlier in the day, East Millinocket firefighters have said.

The slurs prompted York to immediately contact the Maine attorney general’s office, which typically investigates violations or potential violations of civil rights. Brenda Kielty, that office’s spokeswoman, did not immediately return a message left Tuesday.

A 911 call reporting the fire came in at about 12:07 a.m. Oct. 13. Neighbors reported that they had heard an explosion. When the first East Millinocket firefighters arrived around 20 minutes later, the roof of the one-story structure had collapsed and flames were demolishing the rest of the building, firefighters said.

Efforts by the Bangor Daily News to contact the camp’s occupants since Saturday have been unsuccessful. One of their neighbors, John Coon, said the spray-painting of the slurs was “hard for me to believe.”

The Grindstone Road property was put up for sale in September. The owners also have put their Millinocket home on the market.

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